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Poster: Purple Gel Date: Aug 10, 2005 12:53am
Forum: etree Subject: Dead Lyrics

Being a guitar player ( very smateaur admittingly) I have been playing and singing Althea for many years. I always had trouble with one line from the song. Looking it up on the net it seems that the general concensus was that the line went "I told Althea, I was a roving sign", or similar words, and that never really seemed to fit, I mean i know the lyrics are often cryptic, but that seemed kind of silly to me.
the other day I was listening to a Sb Althea, and heard, "i am a rogue inside".This seemed to make more sense and truer to the spirit of the song. I went back and listened to a few other versions, and am now convinced that that is the true lyric. I'm just wondering if I am right, or am I just hearing things? LOL

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Poster: US Blues Date: Aug 10, 2005 9:44am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

"I told Althea, that I'm a roving sign, and I was born to be a batchelor..."

"roving sign" is an astrological reference in my mind. And as a sun-sign Leo, Jerry always did put his own interests first in romance.

Another interesting lyric in Althea, which reveals more of Jerry's persona, was changed very early on by Jerry. Sang it in August and September of 1979 as:

"...honest to the point of innocence,
self-centered to the extreme..."

Beginning in October 79 it became:

"...honest to the point of recklessness..."

PS: Purple Gel, are you going to the Rocks Saturday for Sound Tribe and Trey?

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Poster: droncit Date: Aug 10, 2005 8:27pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

Since Hunter wrote the lyrics, I doubt it has anything to do with Garcia's love life. I think it's an old term for a rover. If I had to guess, I would guess it's a remnant from early advertising - having people go out to small towns to advertise the idea of a minstrel troupe coming to town. The earliest reference I found to the term was the 1890s, which is why I thought of minstrel troupes.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Aug 10, 2005 9:22pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

I agree w/this poster..."I'm a roving sign" is definitely the line, and IMHO it is most certainly a reference to being the kind of person, probably by astrological make-up, who can't be tied down to one woman. Of course, the wonderful irony occurs when Althea says "OK, that's fine", and Jerry says "So now i'm trying to catch her."

Damn, I love that song!

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Poster: cwier60 Date: Aug 10, 2005 2:21am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

A Google search for Grateful Dead Lyrics probably would have answered your quesion in minutes. In case it doesn't turn up The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, by David Dodd, then go to his website for one of the best references on this popular subject.

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Poster: REA04 Date: Aug 10, 2005 2:21am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

I've generally seen/heard it as "roving sign", whatever that means. The same phrase is used by Bob Dylan in "Days of 49", a song from his "Self Portrait" album--
I wander around from town to town
Just like a roving sign

So if Dylan used it....and Hunter used it....it must mean something. No surprise mere mortals can only guess.

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Poster: droncit Date: Aug 10, 2005 8:20am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

...except Dylan didn't write Days of 49.
It was a folk tune collected by Frank Warner. That's probably where Dylan heard it, and probably where Hunter heard it also.
Also in one of the Lomax collections I believe, so that could be the source. Dylan got a lot of stuff from them in the early days.

My guess is that the meaning is pretty much lost. Sounds like something that's vanished from the culture.






This post was modified by droncit on 2005-08-10 15:20:27

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Poster: REA04 Date: Aug 10, 2005 12:28pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

That's good info. It's nice to retain a little mystery in this world.

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Aug 10, 2005 2:17am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Dead Lyrics

"roving sign" is the original lyric...

however, I have heard Jerry replace that line with..."mmmphhph..."